You're at a restaurant and want to order the tiger shrimp. Sounds tasty, but is it an ethical choice from a marine conservation point of view?
Not if it's imported and caught in the wild, according to the Monterey Bay Aquarium's new Seafood Watch app for Android.
Tiger prawns, black tiger shrimp, white shrimp, and ebi that have been caught by trawling--pulling large nets behind boats--should be avoided because the trawling "catches and kills more than 1.8 million tons of marine life each year, including turtles, sharks and other animals, accounting for more than 25 percent of the world's wasted catch," the app says.
The app (an iPhone version has been out since last year) makes it easy to make better choices in a hurry. You can just pull out your Android device or iPhone and find out if you can eat the seafood with a clear conscience.
Users can search by fish or seafood name to see whether it is ranked as "best choice," "good alternative," or "avoid" depending on how sustainably caught or farmed it is. Each listing includes different names for the fish (fish used for sushi are also listed with their Japanese names), as well as information on where it comes from and how it is farmed or fished.
You can also browse by category, such as "best choice," and get other information about the seafood, including how healthy the fish is for human consumption. For example, canned tuna caught by long-line have high levels of mercury.
However, you still will want to ask how the fish was caught, which many merchants will not be able to tell you. For instance, the Seafood Watch app says to avoid Atlantic Cod that is caught using the trawling method and that the best choice is Pacific Cod from the U.S. that is fished with a bottom long-line, jig, or trap.
The app also includes Project FishMap that lets you find restaurants and markets in your area that have been tagged by other users as having sustainable seafood.